WILL SMITH ended a long-standing feud with a former The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air co-star during an emotional reunion special for the show.
The Hollywood actor, 52, joined his fellow cast members — Tatyana Ali (Ashley), Karyn Parsons (Hilary), Joseph Marcell (Geoffrey), Daphne Maxwell Reid (Aunt Vivian) and Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton), as well as DJ Jazzy Jeff, who had a recurring role — for a one-off episode, reminiscing about their time on the comedy, which ran for six seasons from 1990 to 1996.
The cast sat in a reconstructed living room from the famous Fresh Prince mansion to reflect on their time together, while the reunion, streaming on HBO Max, included a tribute to James Avery, who played Will’s on-screen uncle Phil Banks and died in 2013.
But the crowning moment for the still youthful-looking Fresh Prince was his reconciliation with original Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert, who left the show under acrimonious circumstances after season three and blamed Will for her departure.
The pair have traded barbs in the media since, with the actress calling Will an ‘egomaniac’ who had wielded his growing clout to have her replaced.
But now, 27 years after they last met, the pair shared an emotional exchange, with Janet, 64, telling Will that while filming the third season, she was both pregnant and in an abusive marriage.
Janet said she was offered a ‘really bad deal’, which she turned down. She was not fired, she said.
‘When I left the show, I had this new baby and no-one,’ she said. ‘Family disowned me. Hollywood disowned me. My family said, “You’ve ruined our name.”
‘And I wasn’t unprofessional on the set; I just stopped talking to everybody, because I didn’t know who to trust, because I had been banished. And they said it was you who banished me.’
Will, who was 21 at the time, said now he has had three children he can see how Janet would have been struggling and acknowledged that he made things difficult for her on set because ‘everything was a threat to him’.
She replied: ‘You took all that away from me with your words, words can kill. I lost everything.
‘Those words, calling a black woman “difficult” in Hollywood is the kiss of death. And it’s hard enough for a dark-skinned black woman in this business.’
Will said: ‘I could not do a 30-year celebration of this show and not celebrate you, celebrate your contribution to the show, celebrate your contribution to my life.’
The pair apologised to each other and ended their chat with a hug.
But audiences were divided about whether Will did enough to atone for his actions, with one writing: ‘Much respect for Smith to admit fault’, while another wrote pointedly: ‘Ok so how much money is Will Smith going to pay Janet for ruining her career???’
After the reconcoliation, Will then took Janet to greet the other cast members — the first time she has ever met her replacement on the show.
Karyn, who played Phil and Viv’s daughter Hilary, said: ‘Seeing Daphne and Janet — my two moms, the two Aunt Vivs — come together, they’ve never met before, seeing them meet for the first time and embrace was the most incredible thing.’